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Further to GFSI’s recognition of Japan GAP Foundation (JGF)’s ASIAGAP, we met two representatives, President Shunichi Matsui and Mr Hiroshi Ogino, Secretary General, to ask about its development, future policy of activities, and ambitions.

(GFSI Japan Local Group Communication Working Group, hereinafter GFSI)

Congratulations on obtaining GFSI recognition. First of all, please tell us about the outline and activity policy of your foundation.

(Japan GAP Association, hereinafter JGF) Thank you very much. We feel that we have finally come to the finishing line. The recognised certification programme, ASIAGAP, has been developed from JGAP Advance, and this Version 2 has grown to meet GFSI standards. Due to this background, the foundation has changed its name from JGAP to JGF (Japan GAP Foundation) and intends to broaden our activities not only in Japan but also throughout Asia.

There are two major missions for our activities:

  • Building a platform for GAP – aiming for the further development of GAP.
  • Promotion in Asia – exercising the advantage of Asia’s food safety standards.

In this context, the speedy growth of ASEAN countries, the expansion of trade among Asian countries, the rising workforce in Asia, and the rapid development and advancement of ICT and AI technology can be witnessed. We aim for further promotion of certification both in Japan and overseas through international collaboration between and among farmers as well as distributers because we also feel that there is a limit for growth and expansion within Japan.

(GFSI) How many of certified businesses are there now? Please tell us about future developments for the expansion.

(JGF) As of March 2018, the number of certified farms has steadily increased to 2,797 (JGAP) and 1,416 (ASIAGAP), totaling 4,213. However, in order to expand further, we aim for international certification programmes which work in Japan and beyond. That is why we find GFSI recognition appropriate and we would like to increase the number of certified businesses, making them want to obtain and want to do GAP.Regarding the collaboration with distribution companies, we believe that retailers developing in Asia will be able to instruct farmers based on ASIAGAP at the time of procurement.

(GFSI) What are the characteristics or advantages of being a Japanese or Asian programme?

(JGF) It is designed based on the characteristics of the region, such as the climate of Asia and the food culture rooted in rice and paddy fields. The fact that Asia is in an environment susceptible to natural disasters such as floods is also taken into account. In addition, it also highlights an emphasis on farm management, human rights and welfare, and an organisation certification system that is easy for small farms to work on. In terms of the characteristics of domestic certification businesses, there are many small farmers (business operators) who are in the tea businesses.

In view of a successor problem of Japanese agriculture in the future, it is considered that accepting foreign workers becomes important. There is also the expectation that this programme will come into good use as its manual. In addition to exports from Japan, we are considering imports from Asian countries to Japan. We would like to secure food items which have little influence on domestic products such as Korean ginseng or import dependence is inevitable. Therefore, it is not a threat to domestic agricultural products.

(GFSI) Please tell us the process, the hardship and the secret of success regarding this GFSI recognition as well as your ambitions for the near future.

(JGF) We have been conscious about GFSI recognition since 2013-2014 and got our collective act together in a limited amount of time after the application was been submitted.In order to encourage the broad use of the programme in Asia, there is a language barrier to consider. However, compared to Japan, there are many Asian countries where English can be used without hesitation so we would like to consider preparing for manuals in English. We recognise that language issues are important especially when assessing the certification locally. Moreover, it is very crucial to collaborate with each local GAP, considering the companies doing their local GAP.

(GFSI)Please tell us about specific future plans or activities and collaborations with GFSI’s Japan Local Group that you have in mind as a CPO.

(JGF) We believe that convergence of GAP is an important issue, such as ASIAGAP training in Japan and support to obtain ASIAGAP for businesses with GAP formulated by the prefecture. In the future, we would like to work closely with GFSI’s Japan Local Group, and we would like to in particular proactively promote the collaboration in the field of primary products in the global market.There are close relationships with accreditation bodies, certification agencies and training institutions as CPOs, but in general, many CPOs are small organisations like us so it is expected to support and collaborate with a wide variety of stakeholders to go further together.

(GFSI) This was a very valuable story about the characteristics of a certification programme originating from Japan, their future ambitions as well as their plans for development. I believe that it is a very useful reference for business operators in Japan as well as the whole of Asia who are aiming to obtain certification.

Thank you very much.

Contact the Japan GAP Foundation:
3-29 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094, Japan
Japan Agricultural Research Laboratory Building 4F

This post was written and contributed by:

Kenichiro Kimura

Senior General Manager, Quality Assurance & Technology Department, Japan Business Division
Suntory Beverage & Food Limited
GFSI Japan Local Group Communication WG

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